Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Army has alerted that armed bandits were relocating from Zamfara to Kaduna, Kano and Niger states following a sustained attack by troops on internal security operations in that state.
The army has also said that the terrorists who are fleeing from Zamfara State, as a result, its newly launched “Operation Harbin Kunama III.”
Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai made this known at a media briefing. He said the army had concluded plans to conduct special exercises in the affected areas to end banditry and other criminal elements.
Represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Major General Lamidi Adeosun, Buratai while lamenting that the bandits had resorted to soft targets while relocating to other safe havens in contiguous states of Katsina and Sokoto, assured that all criminal elements hiding in forests in the affected states would soon be smoked out.
He said: “Current threat assessments revealed the migration of the bandits from their epicentre to other areas in Kaduna, Kano and Niger states.
Buratai, who said Exercise Harbin Kunama III was launched on April 1, 2019, after the Chief of Army staff’s press conference in Gusau, Zamfara State on March 31, 2019, said the exercise had achieved tremendous successes within the past one month.
“Several bandits and criminal elements have been captured and killed while some camps, hideouts and equipment of the criminals have been destroyed.
“It has however been observed that there appears to be a resurgence of their activities in other contiguous states to Zamfara.
“This is occasioned by fleeing bandits that have resorted to attacking soft targets while relocating to other safe havens within contiguous states of Katsina and Sokoto.
“Current threat assessments revealed the migration of the bandits from their epicentre to other areas in Kaduna, Kano, and Niger states.
“It is against this backdrop that Exercise Harbin Kunama III is being re-organised and its mandate expanded to effectively ensure the complete defeat of the fleeing bandits.
“This is to restore public confidence and enhance safety while also ensuring that socio-economic activities continue without fear or intimidation,” he explained.
“It is on this premise that I want to plead with the public to persevere in the face of seeming inconveniences due to restrictions that may be imposed in these areas while the Nigerian Army is conducting the exercise.
“The Nigerian Army mandate is aimed at building confidence and ensuring that our country is rid of criminal elements that are poised to destabilise the normal life, rights and freedom of the people across the country as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“I want to assure the public that the Nigerian Army will carry out its constitutional mandate of professionally and within the ambit of the law adhering to the ROE. Consequently, I urge the public to claim ownership of the security of the country and wilfully avail us with credible information that will assist in flushing out the subversive and criminal elements from their hideouts and safe havens.
“Be rest assured that the Nigerian Army will continue to support the non-kinetic efforts of the civil authority to combat criminality and banditry as well as prevent them from gaining traction and spreading to other relatively peaceful regions of the country.
“I further enjoin them to continue to support the Nigerian Army with credible information that will assist in the professional conduct of our exercises and operations to rid the area of banditry and criminality.
“They are encouraged to continue to galvanise their subjects and followers to tow the path of peaceful resolution of conflicts rather than resulting to violence which does nobody any good.”
Buratai, while commending the role played by traditional rulers said: “I use this medium to once again call on all religious leaders to pray for the success of our exercise and operations as well as pray for the total eradication of insecurity in our country.”